As we count down to the ESSENCE Festival, taking place June 30-July 3 in New Orleans, music critic Chuck Arnold will get you pumped with a mix of tunes from this year’s artist lineup.
Ciara, “That’s Right”
On the electro-grooving opener of Ciara: The Evolution, the singer gets crunk with Lil Jon, but this party-rocker is all about hitting the club with your girls and doing you.
Tweet, “Oops (Oh My)”
“Oops, there goes my shirt up over my head, oh my,” sings Tweet, getting caught up in the hypnotic beats of this 2002 hit produced by Timbaland and cowritten by Missy Elliott.
Faith Evans featuring Puff Daddy, “All Night Long”
Two of our ESSENCE Fest artists pair up for this hip-hop soul jam, which bumps to a thumping bass line that won’t quit until the break of dawn.
Maxwell, “Fistful of Tears”
We can’t wait for blackSUMMERS’night on July 1, but until then let’s revisit the first part of the trilogy and this tear-stained ballad, with Maxwell channeling his dearly departed idol, Prince.
BJ the Chicago Kid, “Church”
The R&B crooner struggles with Saturday-night temptation versus Sunday-morning salvation on this righteous soul throwback that will take you to heaven.
Lalah Hathawy, “Little Ghetto Boy”
Donny’s daughter won a Grammy earlier this year for her jazzy rendition of her father’s classic, a song that still resonates just as powerfully four decades later.
Kendrick Lamar, “Alright”
If you’ve had a rough week and your spirt has taken a hit, let Kendrick soothe your soul with this anthem, which helps you through the personal struggle as well as the greater one.
Mariah Carey, “Make It Happen”
MC goes to church on this inspirational anthem from 1991’s Emotions. If you ever need to make it happen—or just want to hear some sick vocals—drop this one and let Mariah take you higher.